“No sun!” declared Gina Obrien and her daughter, Marcella Peters, in unison, emphatic about the secret of beauty. Their tanned, creamy complexions seem to speak of a life lounging poolside, but instead, their enviable skin tones are due to the right cosmetics, creams, and moisturizers.
And maybe a little lucky genetics.
“We get sprayed,” clarified Gina, brandishing her toned, tan arms. “We wear hats usually, in the pool, and sunglasses. It’s staying out of the sun. It’s eating right. We juice, we love fresh vegetables and farmers markets. We cook and eat and live very healthy.”
And that’s why they’re beautiful.
Gina, 49, and Marcella, 26, of Parkville, look like they stepped off the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalog, and the comparison is apt, since that’s one of the places they love to shop. Standing at nearly 5’10”—and well over 6” in her heels—Gina was a New York runway model for much of her life, and Marcella, who inherited every inch of her mother’s beauty, has been performing in front of audiences, usually singing, since she was a child.
The “are they sisters?” query is slammed home because the pair dresses identically, every day. From the signature flower in their hair to their flowing summer sundresses to their gold jewelry and strappy heels, Gina and Marcella dress alike, whether they’re in pajamas or jeans or formal gowns.
They’re not quite the same size—Marcella wears a “double zero,” which is as impossibly small a size as it sounds, and Gina is within shouting distance of the same claim. Marcella keeps her hair curly, and Gina usually blows hers straight. Other than those differences, they match each other from the petals of Gina’s handmade flowers in their hair to the tips of their pedicured toes.
The mother-daughter pair sat in their living room, in matching white, ruffled linen dresses, to talk about appearing on VH1’s new reality series, “Mama Drama,” which will premier this Wednesday at 11 p.m.
The 10-episode docu-series looks at five mother and daughter pairs who are best friends, and how the pairs behaved when they were flown to Las Vegas to share a home for six weeks. “Who is the grown-up and who is the child?” asks VH1’s website, hinting at the antics to come, but for Gina and Marcella, the answer to that question is easy.
“Her foot fits in the palm of my hand,” said Gina, explaining how she shops for shoes for Marcella, on the rare outing that they’re not together. She was speaking of Marcella’s tiny size five feet, but her gestures, as she showed how she cups her daughter’s foot, are of a seasoned mother who holds her daughter’s love in both her hands.
“She has tiny hands, and tiny feet,” added Gina, smiling. “She’s just tiny, but perfectly proportioned.” She talked about how she created outfits for her daughter even from the time Marcella was a baby, modifying booties and matching colors, so they would be dressed alike. She glowed with pride when she remembered how her own father, who played his guitar and sang in Italian, taught young Marcella to sing Pavarotti. Marcella, who won Baltimore’s Best Talent on Fox 45 in 1999, was born with an opera-worthy singing voice.
“She came out singing,” said Gina, and Marcella smiled simply and said, “It’s a gift from God, for sure.” Unable to take a compliment without immediately paying one back, Marcella quickly mentioned Gina’s own beautiful singing voice and remembered how her mom always sang to her when she was young. In addition to singing, Marcella has appeared in several commercials, television shows and movies.
Their humbleness, and devotion to each other, matches their beauty and their talents. So why were these women cast in a show that examines a blurred line between mothers and daughters? You can watch the trailer here, to see plenty of scenes of middle-aged mothers, partying in bars, behaving in a manner that would have only been barely appropriate if they were several decades younger.
Gina, poised and gracious, sitting her sofa with her daughter, in their impeccably decorated home, acts as though she’s as likely to behave inappropriately in a bar as she is to leave the house without her lip gloss and her flower.
Which is to say, never.
“Oh, we’ll throw in our hair in a bun, and no makeup!” exclaimed Marcella. She and her mom insist that they’re entirely down-to-earth with no pretensions. They dress alike and love fashion, but they’re kind-hearted, warm, and appreciative of the attention they get. For a quick, pre-shower run to the grocery store, “rocking the bun,” as Marcella says, they’ll still be wearing matching sweat suit sets from Victoria’s Secret and matching Ugg boots.
And they’ll still turn heads.
“People tell us all the time,” said Gina, “’You two are so unique, you belong on television.’” So when Marcella heard about VH1’s casting call, the pair didn’t hesitate to send in their photos. The exposure they get from the show could lead to untold opportunities. Gina secretly hopes to film a James Bond movie or land a spot in a soap opera—Marcella loves to perform on stage.
“The more people the better,” said Marcella, of singing in front of an audience. She and Gina are thinking about adopting Gina’s maiden name, Romeo, as their professional last name, capitalizing on its romantic, Italian sound. “It’s a passion. Singing’s definitely a passion for me.”
“We’re open to anything,” Gina said. “Anything and everything.”
For now, they’re nervous and terrifically excited for the premier of “Mama Drama,” counting down the days until the show premiers.
But not too nervous to skip accessorizing artistically and identically.
“Honey, your necklace is backwards,” murmured Gina to Marcella, reaching over to give her daughter’s appearance a quick tweak.
It’s a gold necklace that Gina designed and had made by a jeweler in New York City.
Well, of course, she had two of them made.